Alexander's double-double rallies Rockets past Eagles
By JIM GRIES Herald sports editor
Once Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont got a hold of a lead, it would not let go of it.
The Rockets had to go nearly 3 1/2 quarters before they finally held the upper hand on non-conference foe Pella Christian Tuesday night and went on to the 51-41 victory.
Both teams are 2-1 on the young season.
Senior guard Tasha Alexander was the sparkplug for the Rockets as she scored 18 of her game-high 29 points in the second half. She put in a layup with 6:15 remaining in the game to give the Rockets its first lead of the game at 34-33 then converted one of her 14 steals into another layup and the Eagles never recovered.
“She kind of laid back in the first half and was frustrated,” said Rockets coach Tony Fenton of Alexander. “She likes to run and started to turn it on. She got some easy steals and got some good looks and put them down.”
Pella Christian coach Kevin Van Maanen said the team was tentative, looking for someone to take over, much like what Alexander brought to her team.
“We’re so tentative in everything we do,” he said. “I’m looking for leadership now and I’m not really seeing much leadership on the team. Somebody to step up and take over. I thought Tasha did for them and that’s what I don’t have now.
“She (Alexander) single-handedly won the game for them.”
The opening half went Pella Christian’s way as it jumped out to an 8-2 lead as Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont had trouble keeping control of the ball. The Rockets had five turnovers early in the first quarter before bouncing back to tie the game at the end of the quarter. Alexander converted two layups and junior guard Sadie Baugher scored four points in the final minute of the period to tie the game at 8.
Pella Christian regained control of the game in the first 3 minutes of the second quarter. Freshman guard Brooke Mitrisin and junior center Hannah Beltman had field goals and junior forward Autumn Vos hit a 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 15-8 lead with 5:06 left in the half.
A 3-pointer by senior guard Lauren Jungling made it a 19-8 contest and things didn’t look good for the Rockets.
They managed to trim the deficit to 23-13 at halftime then began clawing their way back into the game.
Sophomore guard Karlie Taylor started the comeback with a bucket early in the third quarter. She added two free throws and Alexander had two field goals to make it 23-21.
Beltman finally got the Eagles on the scoreboard in the period with an offensive rebound basket. She added another rebound hoop to move the lead back to 27-21.
A pair of baskets by Baugher and one more from Alexander brought the Rockets back to within 29-27 with under 3 minutes to go in the third quarter. Sophomore forward Ashley Pilcher tied the game at 29 for Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, but junior guard Marina Shannon had a basket and Mitrisin hit two foul shots to put the Eagles in front 33-29 going to the final quarter.
Baugher hit a shot from the left corner to begin the Rockets’ rally while Taylor made a free throw to get them to within one at 33-32.
After Alexander’s back-to-back baskets put the Rockets in front for good, the Eagles finally got their first points of the quarter at the 3:41 mark on a steal by junior guard Tessa Howerzyl to make it 40-35. She added four more points to get Pella Christian to within 42-39 with 2:14 left.
But Eddyviller-Blakesburg-Fremont converted on five free throws down the stretch to hold off the Eagles.
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 51, Pella Christian 41